Bell Leads Chevy Qualifiers in Michigan Indy 400 BROOKLYN, Mich., July 31, 2004 - Townsend Bell set the pace for Chevrolet in qualifying for Sunday's Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Bell rebounded from a crash in...
Bell Leads Chevy Qualifiers in Michigan Indy 400
BROOKLYN, Mich., July 31, 2004 - Townsend Bell set the pace for Chevrolet in qualifying for Sunday's Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Bell rebounded from a crash in Friday's second practice session to put Panther Racing's back-up Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara eighth on the starting grid at 213.852 mph. His teammate Tomas Scheckter is the second fastest Chevy in the 22-car field, 14th in qualifying at 213.146 mph with Panther Racing's Pennzoil Chevrolet. Tony Kanaan won the pole in a Honda Dallara with a 215.871 mph qualifying lap.
"The Chevy guys race to win and it's a challenge for the company to continue to improve, but we're getting closer every race," said Bell. "The Panther guys gave me a great car again."
Scheckter was the third fastest driver on Friday, but lost time on his qualifying run when his Chevy Indy V-8 reached the IRL-mandated 10,300 rpm maximum.
"Our Chevy had a little bit more power than we expected, so we hit the hard limiter on the back straight," Scheckter reported. "We didn't quite hit the gearing right. It probably cost us half a mile per hour. Other than that, we feel really good about our race setup. We were as quick as anybody yesterday. The Pennzoil guys are going to work hard to turn this car around, and we'll get ready for tomorrow's race. We're not too far off right now, so we're looking forward to it."
Red Bull Cheever Racing teammates Alex Barron and Ed Carpenter qualified their Chevrolet Dallaras 15th and 16th respectively.
"Our qualifying speed was about what we ran in practice," said Barron, the winner of last year's Michigan Indy 400. "I think Chevy has made a step in the right direction. We're quicker here than we were in the test. As long as we keep moving forward and getting points on Sunday, that's the most important thing.
"I thought the car was spectacular in qualifying, with very good balance and running very free," Barron noted. "With the new rules, it's going to be difficult for someone to check out in the race. Everyone will be running the low line and it's going to be very hard to overtake on the high side."
"We unloaded with about the same speed that we ran in qualifying," said Carpenter. "We're not going to be starting at the front so we'll have to get a good race car. We're fast enough to stay in the draft but it's going to be really hard to pass."
Felipe Giaffone qualified the Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet Dallara 20th at 210.428 mph.
"Unfortunately we went backwards from yesterday," said the disappointed driver. "Everybody found more speed, and we went the other direction. We have to find out what it is. I was wide open and the car was handling well."
Jaques Lazier will make his third start with Patrick Racing after a 210.290 mph qualifying run in the Stacker 2 Chevrolet Dallara.
"We're just missing something with the setup and we missed a little with the gears," Lazier conceded. "We're still have to learn more about the chassis before we make the next jump. Chevy's brought out a new engine spec this weekend and the car's definitely coming off the corners strong, we just missed the gearing."
The Michigan Indy 400 will start at 3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 1. The 200-lap, 400-mile race will be televised live on ABC.